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Monday, 16 July 2018

Summer Reads 2018: Saelan

Last Fall and this Spring, I was teaching in addition to working at the store, which kept me very busy! I've got more time on my hands over the Summer, so when I'm not making popsicles, I've been savoring the chance to read more for pleasure. Here's some titles I've recently enjoyed or hope to get into soon.

NOVELS

Sheila Heti - Motherhood
Rachel Kushner - The Mars Room
As Sheila Heti writes in Motherhood, if men could give birth, whether or not to have children would be one of the central topics of philosophy since antiquity. As a parent of two, it's fascinating and to read Heti's book-length autofictional musing on having (or not having) children, which is occasionally frustrating but never less than totally original. I'm also itching to start Rachel Kushner's The Mars Room -- her incomparable 2013 book, The Flamethrowers, is (imo) one of the most vibrant, thrilling novels of recent years.


Tommy Orange - There There
Catherine Fatima - Sludge Utopia
Rachel Cusk - Kudos
I haven't dipped into any of these three books yet, but Tommy Orange's There There has been hailed as the debut of a major new voice in 21st-century indigenous literature. Catherine Fatima's Sludge Utopia was described has been compared to Chris Kraus and described as ''an auto-fictional novel about sex, depression, family, shaky ethics, ideal forms of life, girlhood, and coaching oneself into adulthood under capitalism'' -- I'm sold! Kudos is the eagerly-awaited conclusion to Rachel Cusk's acclaimed semi-autofictional trilogy, begun with Outline and Transit

Other novels of note: Naben Ruthnum's Find You in the Dark, Keith Gessen's A Terrible Country and My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh.

POETRY & SHORT STORIES

Anne Boyer - Handbook of Disappointed Fate
Cason Sharpe - Our Lady of Perpetual Realness
After Anne Boyer's ferociously intelligent Garments Against Women comes this book, technically (according to the label on the back) a collection of essays and criticism, but more properly considered poetry in the form of some extremely emancipated aphorisms, lists, jokes and tirades. Cason Sharpe has been contributing excellent coverage of Montreal's art scene to Canadian Art of late, so I've been meaning to check out his story collection. 


ART NONFICTION

Craig Owens - Portrait of a Young Critic
Jacob Wren - Authenticity is a Feeling: My Life in PME-Art
Aruna D'Souza - Whitewalling: Art, Race, and Protest in Three Acts
Craig Owens: Portrait of a Young Art Critic is actually just a straight transcription of a 1984 video interview with the pioneering critic and editor, though I'm hard-pressed to think of any recent book from which a person could learn more about art criticism. Jacob Wren is best known in this store as a writer and novelist, but he's also been a member of performance art group PME-Art for twenty years, which he chronicles in his new memoir, Authenticity is a Feeling. I've been following their activities for a while but I'm looking forward to catching up on the longer arc of Wren's career. Aruna D'Souza's Whitewalling expands her urgent, already-published thoughts on Dana Schutz's Open Casket to a longer, highly necessary reflection on contemporary art's unspoken white supremacy. 

SO IT'S COME TO THIS

Catherine Price - How to Break Up With Your Phone
If I can actually put this book's lessons into practice, I'll get a lot more reading done.

D&Q GRAPHIC NOVELS

Lisa Hanawalt - Coyote Doggirl
Aisha Franz - Shit is Real
If you're a fan of Bojack Horseman then you already know that Lisa Hanawalt is a low-key genius (she's the show's production designer and producer). Her first full-length narrative comic, Coyote Doggirl (out in mid-August), is a deadpan feminist Western full of her trademark absurdist anthropomorphic-animal humour. Aisha Franz's Shit Is Real is both a satire of contemporary European hipster culture and a whimsical, thoughtful portrait of a young woman adrift. It's like a hybrid of Miranda July and Walter Scott's Wendy, set in sci-fi, near-future Berlin.

OTHER GRAPHIC NOVELS

Jessica Campbell - XTC69
Alex Graham - Angloid
In Jessica Campbell's XTC69, a team of astronauts from an all-female civilization searches the universe for suitable men to breed with -- the pickings are, predictably, pretty slim. Hijinx ensue. Alex Graham's Angloid is reminiscent of Matthew Thurber's Art Comic or (again) Walter Scott's Wendy. It's a loopy, sometimes-absurd tale of an anorexic, alcoholic artist trying to survive art school and service work.

D&Q IS FOR THE CHILDREN


Genevieve Castrée - A Bubble
Tove Jansson - The Moomins and the Great Flood

My four-year old daughter is finally ready to get into Tove Jansson's Moomins! This gorgeous new edition of The Moomins and the Great Flood, Jansson's very first Moomin book, is the perfect introduction. She was also charmed by A Bubble, which Genevieve CastrĂ©e was working on (as a kind of parting gift for her own daughter) right up until her tragic death from cancer. It's a gutting, heartbreaking book for anyone who knows the artist's story; for those that don't, it's simply very beautiful.

FORTHCOMING
Image result for deborah levy cost of living Image result for chris kraus social practices

Deborah Levy - The Cost of Living
Chris Kraus - Social Practices 
Deborah Levy's The Cost of Living is the follow-up to 2013's Things I Don't Want to Know, both of which are part of a planned autobiographical trilogy about the writing life. I've read both already in the UK editions and they are simply phenomenal. I've become evangelical about Levy since reading them (along with her equally-excellent Booker Prize-nominated novel, Hot Milk). It's really the Summer of Levy, for me. I'm also very excited about Chris Kraus' forthcoming collection of essays on art.

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